The Vice President, Major (rtd) Jessica Alupo, on March, 20, launched activities of the 5th Uganda Water and Environment Week, at the Ministry of Water and Environment in Luzira, Kampala.
The Vice president, noted that water and environment resources support life and social economic activities, which are central to agriculture, the mainstay of Uganda’s economy, from which about 85% of the population derives their incomes and livelihoods.
Alupo added that the Provision of adequate water is required as an indispensable input in agro-industrialization.
She however, noted that Uganda’s water storage capacity in valley tanks and dams is just 42 million cubic meters translating into less than 1 cubic meter per person.
“A lot therefore needs to be done to improve this situation if the country is to be water secure and achieve middle income status,” She said.
Adding, “Water therefore must be available in adequate quantities and corresponding quality at the right time and right place in order to contribute to the achievement of the development goal of increased household incomes and improved quality of life of the population.”
Currently, access to safe water in rural and urban areas stands at 69% and 71% respectively while access to basic sanitation in rural and urban areas is at 78% and 89% respectively.
Alupo revealed that the Low access to water supply and sanitation services has brought inequality in service delivery, Saying rising costs of investments and technologies amidst increasing population and economic demands for water have contributed to low access.
Adding, this situation needs to be improved and the NRM government has committed to having a safe water source per village during this term office.
She revealed that the national wetlands coverage as a percentage of the total land area declined from 15.6% in 1994 to 8.9% currently.
It is estimated that Uganda loses 846 km2 of its wetlands annually. The major causes of wetland degradation are poor farming practices, unplanned urbanization and settlements, excessive water abstraction, poverty, poor intra and inter sector coordination with regards to continued issuance of land titles in wetlands, sand mining and industrialization with some of the demarcated business/industrial parks located in wetlands, challenges Alupo said government is addressing.
Alupo noted that the NRM government in its manifesto made commitments to plant 40million trees per year, translating into 200 million trees over a 5-year period from 2021 to 2026, and thereby increasing the country’s natural resource base particularly in form of forests and trees.
“I am happy to note that the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Water and Environment in collaboration with Development Partners and the Private Sector has innovatively crafted the implementation of this commitment through a nation-wide tree planting drive dubbed “Running Out Of Trees, (ROOTs)- 40million Trees Per Year” depicting one tree for every Ugandan climaxing in an annual national day for mass tree planting,” she said.
Adding, “Relatedly, the NRM Manifesto further commits government to protect and preserve the country’s ecosystems with a view of utilizing these resources for nature-based tourism, environment and climate mitigation and sustainable use by communities neighboring protected areas.”
She revealed that the country recognizes the threat and dangers posed by waste and particularly plastic litter and associated pollution. “I am happy to note that a number of measures have been put in place to address the problem.”
The Vice President, called upon all Ugandans to support all efforts of Government to address the problem of plastic pollution.
Speaking at the same event under the theme, “Water and Environment Week, is Water and Environment for peace and socio-economic transformation of Uganda”, the minister of state for environment, Beatrice Anywar said that water is a key input in most socio-economic development processes and there are no activities than can be undertaken where water is not involved either as primary input or a secondary input.
Anywar added that access to clean and safe water and improved sanitation facilities and practices are pre-requisites to a health population and therefore have a direct impact on the quality of life and productivity of the population.
She said, as a ministry, they believe that the event will provide an opportunity to the stakeholders, to exchange views, experiences, and practices that are key in moving the sector forward.
“I want to assure you all of my Ministry’s commitment to move forward the deliberations and recommendations of the Water and Environment Week so that they can revolutionize the sector and move Uganda towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and National Development Plan 3 targets,” she said.
Anywar thanked development partners for the support rendered to the ministry and conservation of water and environment resources, these included GIZ, WWF Uganda, WaterAid Uganda, IRC, Water for People, UNDP, UNICEF, IUCN, Uganda Joint Christian Council, Buganda Kingdom, Tooro Kingdom, and many others.
The Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK) is a weeklong event that provides an interface for knowledge exchange and dialogue on pertinent water resources issues among sector actors and other stakeholders.
Speaking at a recent event, World Wide Fund for Nature Uganda country director David Duli said a number of water sources have been clogged with all kinds of rubbish, including plastic materials.
This, according to Mr. Duli whose organization has embarked on camping to restore revere Rwizi in Western Uganda, poses danger to water sources.
He said these water resources are becoming more stressed and, therefore, the need for stakeholders to quickly address the matters.
He said that plastic is made to last, so it degrades very slowly in the seas, breaking into smaller and smaller fragments.
Lakes and the city are choking on plastic junk—millions of tonnes of water bottles, soda bottles, drinking straws, and single-use plastic bags.
Worse still, what we see floating on the surface accounts for only 5% of all the plastic litter that has been dumped.
Quoting a recent study, Duli said Kampala city alone produces over 600 tons of plastics and only 6% is processed and recycled while a recent study shows that 95% to plastics dumped in water sources is beneath the surface, where it strangles underwater creatures and wrecks aquatic ecosystems.
“The impacts are evident, in the wetland, by the roadsides, in the drainage systems and all around. This is causing a lot of worries in terms of the impacts that relate to the environment. “
“It takes more than a hundred years for a single plastic bag to decay, and that creates a huge problem,” he noted adding that WWF was committed to supporting the government in the fight against plastic pollution.
The government last month resurrected a ban on plastic bags of 30 microns and below. It also imposed heavy taxes on plastic bags of the size between 30 microns and 100 microns.